Advocacy statements

Global Opposition to Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)

  • Date / 2023
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 8: Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action


Humanists International

54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (11 September to 13 October 2023)

General Debate on Item 8: Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration


The Vienna Declaration reaffirms States’ commitment to the protection of the rights of women and girls and to ensuring education is aimed at strengthening human rights. [1]

The right to receive comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is not only grounded in international conventions, including on health, the child, and education, [2] but CSE has been shown to have a positive and indispensable role in the realization and protection of those rights. [3] Evidence shows that the delivery of CSE improves the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents. It helps reduce unintended and teen pregnancies and prevent unsafe abortions. [4]

Yet, there exists an aggressive and globally-reaching opposition to CSE that champions misinformation and  baseless claims, which are often used to smear reproductive rights campaigners and feed hate speech against LGBTI people. [5] This opposition is impacting government policy and undermining human rights.[6]

In July this year, the president of Honduras vetoed a law that would have guaranteed the teaching of comprehensive education for the prevention of adolescent pregnancy, based on a human rights approach. [7] In Nigeria last year, the federal Government ordered the deletion of sex education from the Basic Education Curriculum, with the Education Minister emphasizing that Nigeria is a religious country and as such morals and values are taught in Churches and Mosques. [8] In Senegal, the President has rejected sex education as a western imposition which goes against national values. [9] In Poland, there have been many bills proposed by the government looking to completely eliminate CSE from schools.[10]

We urge the Council to resist the opposition to CSE and renew the commitment it has demonstrated via previous resolutions, to the implementation of CSE globally.[11]


[1] https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/vienna-declaration-and-programme-action

[2] Convention on the Rights of the Child; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

[3] UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, Policy Paper 39, 2019.

[4] False Pretenses: The Anti-Comprehensive Sexuality Education Agenda Weaponizing Human Rights, Ipas (2023), https://www.aclu.org/news/reproductive-freedom/study-finds-comprehensive-sex-education-reduces-teen-pregnancy. By contrast, programs that teach only abstinence have not proven to be effective (UNFPA Operational Guidance for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: A Focus on Human Rights and Gender, https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/UNFPA%20Operational%20Guidance%20for%20CSE%20-Final%20WEB%20Version.pdf.

[5] False Pretenses: The Anti-Comprehensive Sexuality Education Agenda Weaponizing Human Rights, Ipas (2023).

[6] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/uk-christian-conservatives-join-disastrous-global-backlash-against-sex-education/

[7] https://qcostarica.com/no-to-sex-education-encourages-early-pregnancies-in-central-america/, https://www.elheraldo.hn/honduras/ley-educacion-sexual-veto-xiomara-castro-embarazos-honduras-PF14664319#:~:text=El%20s%C3%A1bado%2029%20de%20julio,prevenir%20los%20embarazos%20en%20adolescentes.

[8] https://tribuneonlineng.com/fg-orders-nerdc-to-remove-sex-education-from-basic-education-curriculum/, https://edutorial.ng/muric-backs-minister-on-removing-sex-education-from-bec/

[9] https://lanouvelletribune.info/2021/01/education-sexuelle-macky-sall-refuse-de-se-faire-forcer-la-main-par-lonu/

[10] https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/05/23/poland-proposed-law-threatens-childrens-rights, https://reproductiverights.org/polish-parliament-must-reject-regressive-proposals-on-sexual-and-reproductive-rights/, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/1

[11] E.g. A/HRC/RES/53/27, A/HRC/50/L.22/Re3/polish-lawmakers-pass-bill-to-step-up-government-control-of-schools v.1

Suggested academic reference

'Global Opposition to Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)', Humanists International

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